Donna Perry Jones on-board in Office of Fellowships and Grants

Rose Woodbury

There’s a new face in the Office of Fellowships and Grants this year. Donna Perry Jones has come on board as the administrative assistant to replace Karen Kinder, who retired at the end of last semester. Although she’s new to the office, Jones has been a part of the Whitman community as both a student and as a staff member for over 16 years.

Keith Raether, the director of the Fellowships and Grants office, described Jones’ duties.

“She works as an administrative liaison between me and the foundations and granting organizations and as a support to students,” he said.

While Raether does most of the counseling and advising with students who are applying for grants or fellowships, Jones also works very closely with students.

“There’s lots of email back and forth with students,” she said.

She also does a lot of the coordination between students and the representatives from the foundations in terms of setting up on-campus interviews and reserving rooms for informational meetings.

Jones graduated from Whitman in 1976 with a degree in sociology and plural societies, an area of major study that is no longer offered by the college. Her son also graduated from Whitman.

Additionally, Jones worked for 12 years under former Whitman president Thomas Cronin. While the Office of Fellowships and Grants did not yet exist at the time, Cronin was highly supportive of making those kinds of opportunities available to students.

“He was a big encourager of the Watson [Fellowship],” she said.

Each year the Watson Fellowship awards $25,000 to roughly one student from each of its 40 participating institutions to pursue an independent project that he or she has devised and which must take place in various countries of the student’s choice outside of the United States.

“Tom was excited about having [the fellowship] here,” said Jones.

The Watson is only one of the many fellowships, scholarships and grants that Jones and Raether work to make more accessible to students. They are always searching to find out about new fellowships and to make them available to students, as well as working diligently with students to advise and assist them with the application process. Their attention to detail is crucial for making sure the application process runs smoothly.

“There are many juggling pins in the air at once,” said Raether.

In addition to Jones, Raether has also been with the college for a number of years, working as a writer in the Communications Office before becoming the director of Fellowships and Grants in 2008.

He believes strongly in the power of his and Jones’ work to make a huge difference in students’ lives both during and after Whitman.

“This is a really important office for students as they consider the big picture of their lives,” he said.